Skip to main content

'L' is for losers in L.A. sports

By MIke Downey, Special to CNN
May 20, 2013 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
Zack Greinke of the Dodgers is back after breaking a collarbone in April. Could it be the start of an L.A. sports comeback?
Zack Greinke of the Dodgers is back after breaking a collarbone in April. Could it be the start of an L.A. sports comeback?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mike Downey says L.A. teams are "playing 99 Cent Store ball"
  • "SoCal is in the midst of some kind of too-big-to-fail madness," he says
  • Downey: "We've seen our more famous teams go from good to bad"

Editor's note: Mike Downey is a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

(CNN) -- "LMAO @ L.A.," came the text.

"Laughing My (Butt) Off at Los Angeles," it meant.

A friend from the Midwest sent it.

"Hahaha," the next text heckled. "Dodgers & Angels spent $$$ & still stink!"

If you say so, I said.

"Lakers Stink 2," it continued.

OK, OK, I got it.

Mike Downey
Mike Downey
Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



This joker -- I guess others out there, too -- gets a weird satisfaction out of L.A.'s teams being so rich but playing so poorly.

The digs do keep coming.

Jay Leno: "The Dodgers have lost seven straight. They're so bad, they've changed 'Bobble Head Night' to 'Shake Your Head in Disbelief Night.' "

Then it became eight straight.

Leno: "President Obama wants to close Gitmo. Gitmo? How about closing Dodger Stadium? How many people are being tortured there night after night?"

A funny thing happened on the way to a Freeway World Series here in smug, smoggy, sunny, show-me-the-money Southern California.

Our big-buck teams are playing 99 Cent Store ball.

In fact, all of SoCal is in the midst of some kind of too-big-to-fail madness. We've got more flops than Nicole Kidman.

We bought. We splurged. We invested. We went for broke. We spent like Real Housewives at a Beverly Hills plastic surgeons. But what did it get us so far? Losers across the board.

I can't figure it out.

Where did L.A. go wrong?

Bleacher Report: What Lakers need for next year

The Lakers were loaded. Stupendous payroll. Dwight Howard and Steve Nash joined a team that already had Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. It could be the best team of all time! It could win 75 of its 82 games! NBA, get out of their way!

The Angels reloaded. They already had the mighty Albert Pujols and the cool kid Mike Trout. Oh, so how about we go get Josh Hamilton, too? A murderers' row! See you in October!

The Dodgers recovered. They were bankrupt, then were bought up -- by Magic Johnson and friends -- for more than $2 billion, yet! Let's go shopping! Hanley Ramirez, ka-ching. Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, ka-ching. Zack Greinke, ka-ching. Money is no object! It's time for Dodger baseball!

Well, so far, so bad.

Bleacher Report: First quarter grade for Dodgers

Lakers: An 0-8 preseason and 1-4 start get the coach canned. A replacement is hired while much-loved Phil Jackson is still mulling it over. Much-loved owner Dr. Jerry Buss dies from cancer. Howard's hurt, Nash hurt, Kobe hurt, Pau hurt. The new coach is not much-loved. Fans chant: "We Want Phil!" Lakers use players in the playoffs who are named Who, What and I Don't Know. They lose a game by 31 points -- worst home playoff loss ever. Howard gets ejected from Game 4. The season ends and Kobe sues his mom for selling his memorabilia. Get me CBS or NBC. Have I got a sitcom for you.

Angels: A week into the season, ace pitcher Jered Weaver breaks his elbow. Angels lose eight of first 10 games. Pujols, a slow start. Trout, ditto. Hamilton, a slower than slow start. The dependable Torii Hunter gets traded to Detroit -- where he's hot. The expendable Vernon Wells gets traded to New York -- where he's hotter than hot. As of May 16, only the hopeless Houston Astros have won fewer games in the American League than the stars-R-us Angels have.

Dodgers: A week into the season, ace pitcher Greinke breaks his collarbone. Other pitchers get hurt. Other hitters get hurt. Not a lot to smile about at Dodger Stadium except a Korean pitcher named Hyun-Jin Ryu who looks good and a Korean entertainer named Psy who comes to a game to dance in the aisles between innings while a wide-eyed Tommy Lasorda looks at him like he's a man from Mars. As of May 16, our Two Billion Dollar Men are in last place.

Call 911. Call CSI: L.A.

Something's killing our teams.

Not that we don't appreciate the L.A. Kings and L.A. Galaxy winning championships in hockey and soccer the way they have. I like hockey. I like soccer. I just don't get a lot of texts that go, "Wow, L.A. sure does have big-name hockey stars!" Or: "Whoa, I've got Galaxy fever!"

We've seen our more famous teams go from good to bad.

USC football finally got off NCAA probation, had star quarterback Matt Barkley back, was ranked No. 1 in the nation in a preseason poll -- then went 7-6, embarrassed itself in a bowl game and saw Barkley disappear on NFL Draft Day.

UCLA basketball christened a remodeled arena, brought in blue-chip recruit Shabazz Muhammad, looked OK -- then lost by 20 points in the NCAA tournament to Minnesota and fired the coach.

Things turned so dark, we even turned our dials to America's Funniest Home Basketball Team -- yep, the L.A. Clippers -- to save our city.

I mean, come on. Expecting a championship from the Clippers is like expecting Mark Zuckerberg to end up on a 10 Best-Dressed List.

But there they were, L.A.'s new darlings, winning 16 games in a row, dunking and funking, popularizing the cool name "Lob City," doing TV ads for cars and stuff, having a 50-win season for the first time, winning the NBA's Pacific Division for the first time, winning two playoff games -- mmmm, kiss my red Clips, baby!

Then they blew Games 3, 4, 5 and 6 and kissed off the whole year.

Well, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, as Kelly Clarkson likes to scream on iTunes.

OK, so David Beckham doesn't want to kick soccer balls for us anymore. OK, so the NFL still won't give us a team. OK, so the Hollywood Park horse-race track is shutting down for good.

We will survive.

Besides, baseball season's still early. I wouldn't count out those Dodgers or Angels of ours just yet. They've got time. They've got talent. They've got $$$. If u think they stink, hey, go text yourself.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1413 GMT (2213 HKT)
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Ronald Reagan went horseback riding and took a vacation after the Korean Air Crash of 1983. So why does the GOP keep airbrushing history to bash Obama?
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1338 GMT (2138 HKT)
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1251 GMT (2051 HKT)
Errol Louis says the tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD has its roots in the "broken windows" police strategy from the crime-ridden '80s.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Texas Gov. Rick Perry is right to immediately send 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the border children crisis.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1356 GMT (2156 HKT)
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 2015 GMT (0415 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1742 GMT (0142 HKT)
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1242 GMT (2042 HKT)
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
July 19, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1507 GMT (2307 HKT)
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 1755 GMT (0155 HKT)
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1953 GMT (0353 HKT)
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1933 GMT (0333 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1011 GMT (1811 HKT)
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1206 GMT (2006 HKT)
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1804 GMT (0204 HKT)
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1518 GMT (2318 HKT)
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0124 GMT (0924 HKT)
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT